Daily Briefs

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NIAS Europe Daily Brief #09, 12 October 2021, Tuesday

The French-Algerian bilateral tensions

Fishing row between the EU and UK intensify; Normandy format talks expected; Macron's 'France 2030' green investment plan; English Channel migrant crossings; Footballers threaten data collection firms

By Vaishnavi Iyer

Algeria demands 'total respect' from France following remarks by Macron
Following a diplomatic row over visas and remarks from Paris, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune demanded "total respect" from France. Algeria had recalled its ambassador from Paris following "inadmissible" remarks by President Emmanuel Macron. Critical comments from Macron surrounding Algerian history sparked tensions. The Algerian government responded by prohibiting French military planes from entering its airspace. Tebboune said: "We forget that it [Algeria] was once a French colony...History should not be falsified." 

The comments mentioned in Le Monde, report Macron stating that Algeria was governed by a "political-military system". Algeria's official history has been rewritten, according to Macron, to encourage anti-French sentiment. According to the newspaper, the remarks were directed at Algeria's ruling elite rather than Algerian society as a whole. 

The French-Algerian spat erupted over the French government's unilateral decision to impose visa restrictions on Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco. The visa limitations were imposed in reaction to the Algerian government's refusal to accept unauthorized migrants. In response, Algeria withdrew their French ambassador. Macron expressed his wish to have cordial relations with Algeria. Admitting France's mistreatment of Harkis, he asked for "forgiveness" from the families of Algerians who fought alongside the French. Around tens of thousands of Harkis were killed with the French evacuation. The Harkis were denied resettlement in France and were mostly ostracized. In his speech asking for forgiveness, Macron stated the French attempt to "bandage" wounds through "words of truth". His government pledged EUR 4.71 million with pension provisions and laws to protect the children of Harkis. The address elicited mixed responses. Media reports on Macron's address to the descendants of Algeria's 1954-1962 War of Independence were met with heavy criticisms, as Algeria reminded France of the "genocides" committed by French colonizers. The remarks made by Macron were seen as interfering in Algeria's internal affairs. The Algerian government insisted on the recognition of the shared colonial history of Algeria and France. 

While Macron hopes for talks in the future, Algeria has declared that the return of its ambassador to France is contingent on France paying "full respect" to Algeria. The bilateral relations between France and Algeria got complicated when Macron in 2020, tasked Benjamin Stora, a historian to prepare a report about France's colonial legacy in Algeria. The report was criticized heavily due to its biased nature and absence of recommendations to issue apologies or reparations to the victims. With Macron's speech, France is faced with challenges on the social justice front, by denying history to the oppressed. Moreover, the opportunity cost is not only social but even based on security concerns since French military planes located jihadists in the Sahel region through the Algerian airspace, which is now banned for France. As the relations of the countries strain over historical and contemporary differences, the French response is awaited.


"Macron apologises to Algerians who fought with French colonisers," Euronews, 20 September 2021

"Algeria demands France's 'total respect': President," Al Jazeera, 12 October 2021

"Algeria's Tebboune says envoy will only return if France shows 'total respect'," France24, 10 October 2021

By Joeana Cera Matthews

Macron's EUR 30 billion worth Green Investment Plan
On 12 October, French President Emmanuel Macron unveiled his EUR 30 billion plan saying that France intends to be a green hydrogen leader, build low-carbon planes, and small nuclear reactors by 2030. Also called the 'France 2030', the plan would ensure French industrial decarbonization accompanied with greater innovation. The opposition was highly critical of the reveal, which comes only six months prior to the elections, terming it electoral campaigning. However, Macron denied such claims, maintaining that 'productive independence of Europe and France' was the priority; he intends to reduce French reliance on foreign imports. Criticisms came from all corners, with environmental group Greenpeace calling the plan "a festival of false solutions and wishful thinking." (Leigh Thomas and Benoit Van Overstraeten, "Macron unveils 30-bln euro plan for innovation and industrial revival," Reuters, 12 October 2021; Giorgio Leali, "Macron's €30B end-of-term bet to make France great again," POLITICO, 12 October 2021) 


Ukraine Conflict: Germany, France, Russia hopes to have talks
On 11 October, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron along with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy conversed via phone. Merkel and Macron expressed hopes of having talks, preferably in the Normandy format, to figure out solutions to the Donbass region conflict in eastern Ukraine. The Kremlin also showed interest in the same by calling for talks with Germany and France; however, nothing was mentioned about Ukraine's participation. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen along with the European Council President Charles Michel is expected to visit Kyiv on 12 October. ("Germany, France and Russia may hold summit on Ukraine conflict," Deutsche Welle, 12 October 2021) 

Brexit: 14 EU member states issue threatening declaration against the UK
A joint statement against the UK, alleging them to have risked "significant economic and social damage" to fishing communities, is being prepared by 14 EU member states. Supposedly organized by French minister for the seas Annick Giardin, the signatories to the declaration includes France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Cyprus, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Portugal, Malta, Lithuania, and Latvia. The statement of solidarity comes after the UK and Jersey governments angered the French by reducing the number of licenses provided to small boats fishing in coastal waters. The declaration is a veiled threat, providing a glimpse into what the future of EU-UK relations would resemble, if Britain fails to reconsider its stance. (Daniel Boffey and Lisa O'Carroll, "EU member states to issue joint warning to UK over reduced fishing rights," The Guardian, 11 October 2021)


English Channel Crossing sees 364 more reach Kent 
On 10 October, eleven boats containing 324 migrants arrived at Kent. This follows around 1,115 crossing across the English Channel on 7 and 8 October. French authorities also stopped around 500 migrants in 16 vessels, attempting to cross over. There have been 300 arrests and 65 convictions related to small-boat crossing this year alone, according to the Home Office. ("Migrant crossings: Channel boats bring 364 more people,' BBC, 12 October 2021) 


Footballers threaten data collection industry with 'letters before action'
850 players have initiated legal action against the data collection industry claiming that data was misused. The footballers, led by Cardiff City, Leyton Orient, and the Yeovil Town manager, have sought compensation since their performance data has been traded for the last 6 years. They also expect to be paid an annual fee if their data is used in the future. 17 firms have been hit with 'letters before action', accusing them of breaching the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules. If the players intend to move forward with the legal action, it would imply a significant change for the data collection industry. (Nick Hartley, "Professional footballers threaten data firms with GDPR legal action,' BBC, 12 October 2021)

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